Monday 2 March 2009

The Strange Case Of Mrs T and the BBC

Ironic, isn't it (a pedant writes: No), that the BBC, having spent decades pillorying Margaret Thatcher as the fons et origo of all that went wrong with this country, has suddenly come over all gooey and taken to portraying her, in drama at least, sympathetically? In fact sympathetically is putting it mildly - in the recent spate of Thatcher dramas, including the new one (Margaret, with Lindsay Duncan), she comes across as one heck of a woman - a beleaguered feminist heroine no less, and sexy with it (I'm thinking Andrea Riseborough in The Long Road to Finchley). What's happened? Is it that documentary and political analysis are one thing, drama another altogether? That once you embody a historical figure in a fact-based but imagined work, you give birth to the Inconvenient Truth of what that person was like - in Mrs T's case, her extraordinary force of personality, fixity of purpose and undoubted (if controversial) achievements become inescapable. Putting a flesh-and-blood 'Margaret' at the centre of the action makes 'Thatcherism' seem a very different, more interesting and compelling, thing. It's hard to believe that the BBC intended to make sympathetic dramas about their great bogeywoman; perhaps they reckoned without the power of drama to surprise, to take on a life of its own. Meanwhile, of course, the likes of Jeremy Hardy will continue with thier (vicious and unfunny) Thatcher-bashing as if nothing's happened...

1 comment:

  1. Top Thatcher-basher Ben Elton gets criticised for selling out, but you could argue that Jeremy Hardy still banging on about the same things two decades later is much sadder.